Saturday, 24 December 2016

Advent Activity

Well, I am now officially an OAP! (For non-UK folks that means Old Age Pensioner, what you Americans  call Senior Citizens -so much nicer!) I was invited, along with my friend Pat, to attend a school band concert and afternoon tea "For the OAPs". Pat's two granddaughters were playing and the standard of musicianship is very high at their school. I actually played BINGO! Not that I won anything but it was a bit of fun, and the music was brilliant. SO, no school Nativity plays for me but I did get into the Christmas Spirit somewhat, at last! And at home the decorations - though minimal - are in place and a very tiny tree is dressed and lit up.

There are a few more presents under the tree now, and our grandson Chris has just been round with his, so it's looking far more Christmassy. I haven't wrapped Jim's yet - his guitar hard gig-bag will NOT be wrapped, maybe a bit of tinsel round the neck!

What's off my hook?

I've hooked about eight blankets or throws, and a couple of cushion covers. One scarf, with the Noro yarn was a cobbled together of two pieces of crochet which resulted in a very uneven shape! It was just rows and rows of trebles, made up as I hooked along. But so far everything has been very simple. I wanted to try something a little more challenging and so loved the look of a chevron scarf - well, almost a shawl - on Pinterest, that I checked out the free pattern on Ravelry. I downloaded the pattern by Dena Stelly, and began the 32 chain foundation. I was quite intimidated at first as it was a quite sparsely worded pattern which left a couple of doubts in my mind - due to my inexperience, not Dena's pattern. However, once the chains and the first row were completed it was plain sailing. I used Rico Creative Melange yarn which is DK but feels more like 4-ply, so I used a 3.5 hook. I'm really pleased with this skinny scarf, it snuggles round the neck beautifully - I might even stitch up the ends and turn it into an"Infinity" or Mobius loop cowl.

Following on the success of the first Melange scarf I hooked a larger foundation chain (62 chains) in a different colour way of the same yarn. People who are used to me working in very bright shades might be surprised to learn I CAN do pale and interesting! The longer chain is SO satisfying to hook - you chevron away for longer before turning and get into a lovely rhythm. I actually feel so relaxed and happy when I'm crocheting, perhaps it should be prescribable  by your GP! The shades haven't photographed very well, but you can see it on the left here. For these subsequent scarves, I used a size 4mm hook, and I like the slightly looser, lacier effect.

The one in the centre is a green and purple colour way which is lovely and I have earmarked this one as a present for someone, but I need to make it up into a cowl.

As I had two more colour-ways I made shorter scarves with the blue and the raspberry shades - these will be cowls, I think. Here are all the scarves folded up.

What's ON my hook?

I saw a pair of WONDERFUL fingerless mittens, sold by Anthropologie, and now sold out - even at the price you'd pay there! The lovely Emma on Potter and Bloom blog has put a youtube video up to show how she has made a similar pair, using granny squares. It looks very simple so I'm about to have a go. The central motif is a puffy flower which I've not made before, so I've learned a new stitch too. I'll keep you posted on how I get on with them! Meanwhile here's as far as I've got!

The centre is actually pistachio green, not lime as it looks here. Greens somehow don't translate well with my camera, sadly.

So, in the run-up to Christmas, that's what I've been getting up to. I know lots of you have been feverishly decorating, making jams and marmalade and puddings and mince pies, and rushing round from one school concert to the next Nativity Play - but life is quieter for us. So whether you celebrate Christmas or not, enjoy the holiday and festive spirit, we can all embrace that, I think!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


A very quick and short post today ….. I have finished my latest blanket, a gift for my younger son. It's called OCEAN because that is where he loves to be. I wove in the ends and added a couple of rows for a narrow border this afternoon, and am SO happy with it! I think I have managed to complete this in under three weeks. I know some people crochet much faster than that but usually a blanket this size would take me a few months!

Not my usual choice of colours, being neither very bright nor pale and interesting, but I think it's just right for a chap who likes the beach and the sea - what do you think?

I now have some new wool which is making me drool. I just have to decide what the next project is going to be. I don't really need another blanket  - even though Ocean will be posted far away - but I have some lovely patterns which have been calling to me! Though I'd like to do a shawl, if I could find a pattern not too difficult for someone who has most only crocheted throws and cushion covers. The wool is Double Knitting but is very fine, and is gently variegated. I'll show you when I decide what I'm going to make with it!

I expect you'll all be getting frantically busy in the run up to Christmas. I am happy to report we have actually got the decorations (very restrained) up and the tree lit up with fairy lights. All looking fairly festive here. Hope you are feeling the Christmas spirit, and not feeling too stressed out with organising things. I've read quite a few blog posts, and a number of articles recently urging people to not get drawn into the over the top hype, and then feeling inadequate compared to the 'people' in the adverts. Remember everyone will experience some stress, some joy, some disappointment and some happiness. I hope you have more of the good stuff than the not so good stuff!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016


I know. There's no such word. But there should be! I am feeling quite intoxicated by colour, at the moment. I bought a book called Rainbow Crochet Blankets by Amanda Perkins, and I have truthfully been drooling each time I opened it! Her use of colour is masterful despite the blankets being fairly un-complex (mostly). She uses her own hand-dyed 4-ply yarn though her company The Natural Dye Studio was dissolved in 2015, and you can no longer purchase that yarn. She does, however, give a variety of suitable alternatives in the book. I just can't wait to get cracking on something from within those colour-saturated pages!

However, I shall have to wait a while as I'm hooking away madly trying to finish OCEAN, the blanket I'm making for my son Kit. (It's alright, he sussed out that it was for him, darn it - I was sure he didn't read my Face Book statuses!)

It's coming along nicely, and I am enjoying hooking it, but I'm going to have to put a double border round it in two blues, to balance the colours a little better - at the moment I feel the greens dominate, which is not the effect I was intending.

These pretty little beauties are just two-row grannies hooked from a stash of cotton yarn I found a few weeks ago lurking in the sewing room! It is half Rico Creative Cotton, and half something else which I've no label for, and it splits a bit so not as nice to use as the Rico. But I really love the shades, they remind me of a spring flower garden. I think I need another four then I can join them and make a cushion cover. Hmmm, what to make the back from…..

Another chance to see the two Mine and Jim's Summer House blankets, these are made in a Rico cotton blend too, can't remember the name I'm sorry. They do look lovely draped over the arm chairs down there and we both enjoy wrapping them round our legs as the weather has got colder.

For those of you who haven't seen it before, this is the first of my two Ripple Blankets, made from Lucy Attic 24's pattern. Once you get the hang of rippling it is so soothing to work. I'm wondering now whether I ought to have made Ocean using ripple. Ah well, it works well with the two treble patterns I think.

And last but not least, this gorgeous - though I say it myself - scarf I hooked using some beautiful Noro 4-ply yarn. I just love it. Though I have to confess it is cobbled together from two uneven pieces so it has to be draped in a very artistic fashion so you don't notice the wavy sides!

So as you can see, I am heavily in love with crochet at the moment. That's way it goes with me. I'm all over Facebook with it, and have managed to snare a few people into becoming addicts too. I am spending far too much time reading crochet blogs now and I have discovered the many wonderful crochet podcasts. Don't go there unless you want to develop a very late night watching habit! I hope you've enjoyed the new work and the trip down memory lane with the older stuff. Happy hooking until next time!

Sunday, 27 November 2016


The sun streaming through the windows encouraged me out into the garden to take some autumn photographs - clogged up with leaves as it is! Still a few summer herbs, and good old geranium. The bird house gets used as a perching post, but not for nesting, and the large bug hotel appears empty, but the one Jim made  has three or four residents I think.

     Hanging on to my parsley for grim death! Of course, when the frost hits, that will be it for the year.

           I'm hoping the chards - white and rainbow, will see us through winter, along with the kale.

                                Back of the cottage in the late afternoon autumn sunshine.

                                              Really pleased the bug house is being used!

                                                   And still the cranesbill survives!

I've really got back into crochet the last month or so; perhaps it's the weather! Lovely to cosy up with a basket of gorgeous wool and a crochet hook when the evenings are dark and the temperature drops. Colour-schemes buzzing round my head all the time.

I'm very excited that my wool has arrived for Lucy's (Attic 24)  latest  "Moorland" blanket, though it has to sit on the back burner until January when she begins the Crochet Along pattern on her blog. I haven't even opened the bag in case I'm tempted to dive in and use the wool!

I do have a fair amount of Stylecraft yarn which I've just boosted with a small delivery, in order to begin my own latest blanket which I am calling "OCEAN". I'm using the Lucy pattern from her Cosy Stripe Blanket, but have come up with my own colour scheme. A little like her Moorland idea, I used the natural colours of an outdoors scene. I wanted to depict the colours from the grassy dunes, down to the beach, and into the ocean. I haven't used a photograph, and my colours repeat as a block rather than as Lucy has done hers following the vertical striations of the photograph. (If that sounds skew-iff,  I mean the striations are horizontal in a vertical context.) I think that's what I mean anyway.

This is my "Cosy Stripe" blanket, using Lucy's pattern and colour scheme. This is our favourite of all the Lucy blankets I've made. It works up very quickly and soothingly.

OK so this is MY colour scheme for "OCEAN" It begins with four shades of green, depicting the grassy dunes, the sea-buckthorn, samphire and other seashore grasses. Then comes the dry sand at the top of the beach, followed by the damper sand closer to the sea. Then comes the almost white surf, and four more shades of blue as the water gets deeper and further away from the shore.  This 'colour repeat' is only 22 rows whereas Lucy's moorland depicts the entire vertical slice of her photograph, and is one single scheme with no repeat. (although colours are repeated obviously).

Here I'm just beginning the first repeat. I love all these shades, so am excited afresh each time I change colour! "OCEAN" is intended as a gift for someone special, but no more about that just yet.

As a break from the blanket I'm using up all those little balls of left-overs to make solid granny squares. NO IDEA what I'm going to do with them, but they are building up nicely into a little pile; I'll just keep going with them until I have sufficient to do something with.

Each little ball makes roughly four or five squares. More left-overs will accrue, so obviously this is an on-going project.

                   More greens required - and some shades of red too, I think. Time will tell.

Rummaging through the sewing room, I found a basket of multicoloured granny squares which I began years and years ago - I'd forgotten all about them. They are a pretty disparate crowd, but I have thoughts about adding a couple of rows and pulling them together with one or two colours, so they will blend more easily. Again, no real idea of the outcome, but there will be enough of them for a throw.

The light in my sewing room wasn't the best when I took this shot; the squares are much brighter than they appear here. And of course, greens never seem to come out properly on the blog, for some reason!

No other stitchery going on at the moment, I am obsessing about crochet - and you know me - one obsession at a time! But of course I am cooking and reading, and even doing a little gentle walking! Yes! Me! I hope you are all finding something  lovely to obsess about and are enjoying yourselves.

EDIT :  APOLOGY!!!!  Whilst publishing the comments for the previous post, I inadvertently clicked on the "DELETE" instead of "PUBLISH" but I cannot for the life of me remember whose comment it was. Please, if you commented and haven't seen it posted, let me know - I never delete a comment and would hate someone to think I have whisked their kind comment away without publishing it!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Autumn Colour

No, I can't believe it either - two blog posts in ONE WEEK! Just like the old days! And don't be mislead by the title - this isn't about fallen leaves and gloriously hued trees - though there is much evidence of fallen leaves to be fair. It's about the colourful things in the cottage and garden which are still providing me with pleasure as the season gets a little murkier.

In the header photograph you can see my favourite cardigan - and no, I didn't knit it, don't be silly! But I DID crochet the little bag which tones so well with it. This is Lucy's (Attic 24) Weekend Bag and I chose the Heatwave colour scheme specifically to go with the cardigan. It's made using chunky wool and worked up in absolutely no time at all. A real joy to crochet.

Off out into the garden, and - aside from the profusion of fallen leaves still littering the place despite Jim's hard work with the leaf blower - there are still so many flowers hanging on in there long after they should be gone. A real delight, especially the fuchsias.

I was amazed to discover that last hollyhock, hiding behind the bins! And it hasn't been long since the rose decided to call it a day.

And speaking of crochet, HOW long have I had this granny stripe on the back-burner? The actual blanket was finished ages ago, but the ends needed darning in and the border put on. I finally sat and did the darning over the weekend, while the rugby was on, and began the pistachio border, but have run out of wool and am waiting for a delivery. Behind it over the back of the chair is one of my ripple blankets, also an Attic 25 pattern. She gives such full and clear instructions and detailed photographs of every stage, just what I need! It has been very soothing trebling along round the border, and I have another two rows to go - bliss!

Some more gorgeous colour which delights me each time I go into the kitchen.

On my lovely trolley I keep some of my favourite ceramic bits and pieces, my lemon/eggs/garlic storage and this fab food cover, isn't it pretty in pink? My blue and white salt pig we bought in Sienna many many years ago;  the lid is cracked and repaired, and the rim has a few chips taken out of it, but I will never part with it.

And how about these beauties! The spoon rest we found in Larners, up in Holt earlier this year, and the five small dishes I bought there also. When we were in Mallorca in September we found a shop selling the same patterned ware as the spoon, so we snapped up the three dipping bowls, and yes, we do use them for all sorts of things. (I have to say they were a lot cheaper in Mallorca than Holt, but you'd expect that!) It pleases my eyes immeasurably to glance at these items while I prep and cook. To my mind, colour gladdens the heart, and we could all do with a bit more of that these days! Toodle-pip, I won't promise to be as quick with the next post, but you never know!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Atrociously Belated!

What can I say? Beware, other bloggers - if you leave it too long it becomes almost impossible to get back on track!  So much has happened - quite naturally - since I last blogged, I think it easier to just pop some photos up with a short description. But then… you know how difficult I find it to be brief once I get started!

First, we had a trip to Mallorca, in September, just to have a break and some sunshine and meet up with our friends Trini and Steve, who live there.

   Jim in the square, in the small town of Soller, where we stayed. We began most days with a coffee in      the square, before deciding what - if anything - we would do for the day!

            View from our patio across the orchard where the two holiday casitas had been built.

                                      Looking down the orchard towards Soller.

The tram we took to reach the beach at Puerta de Soller, a twenty minute scenic route, full of local colour!

Puerta de Soller, with its yachts and fishing smacks, sandy beach, tourist shops, and beach restaurants.

                                                   Our seafood lunch. Mmmmmmmmm!

Steve up at the farm, demonstrating how the grapes become wonderful red wine, in his vintnery.

 And lastly, one of our favourite places to stop for an afternoon helado or ice cream. We also ate dinner under those sunshades most evenings.

In October, Jim and I met up with some old Naval Medical Branch friends near Brighton. We spent 3 days catching up on old times and having dinner in a different place each night! Our hotel was in Rottingdean.

          Our room overlooked the beach. The weather wasn't brilliant, but I rather liked this snap!

                Evening number one: Chinese meal for eight. Yes! A rare one of me!

I had barely got my suitcase unpacked from Brighton, when my friend Pat and I flew off to Barcelona!
Pat had been twice before, with her husband Dave, but it was a place I'd longed to visit - mainly, as you'll have guessed, for the mosaics!

Our hotel was right on La Rambla, so we ate out each night at a different pavement cafe. The first night I ordered sangria - and was a tad taken back when it arrived in a half-litre glass. I didn't finish it!

We took an open top bus ride around the city. Some of the architecture was magnificent, some of it designed by Gaudi.

               See the sky? It was like that much of the time we were there. No sunglasses required!

                                                                              The Harbour.

                                                                          Up at Park Guell

             The model of Gaudi's Familia Segrada, which was almost as close as we got, sadly.

          The beautiful paint-and-plaster covered buildings at Park Guell I was spoilt for choice!

                                    View from Park Guell across the city to the coast.

                      Ah! The mouth-wateringly beautiful mosaics - I didn't know where to start!

                                  You just want to take them all home!

                                                        I swear if I'd had a sharp knife with me………

                                                 Another view over the roof-tops.

                                                                   More deliciousness!

                                                     Mrs County Commissioner - the Natural Poser!

                                                                  Yet more!

Sadly, we got to Familia Segrada at 1030 to find the next available entrance was 1830 that evening! The crowds were HUGE! So we decided we'd get our tickets and come back later. Only to find that as we reached the front of the queue, all the available tickets had sold out. Come back tomorrow! Well, too late for us, as we were flying out the next day. HUGELY disappointed. We understood the  reason for it, but nowhere was it made plain that you should really book the day before to ensure you got inside. So many people were turned away, and more coaches arriving as we left - hundreds of people would not have got in that day. We felt it could have been better advertised.

This is as close as we got. It is really breathtaking, and as you can see, Gaudi's masterpiece remains a work in progress - the scaffolding is not for repairing the building, but for the continuation of the plans Gaudi laid down when he designed it.

                                              Everywhere you look there is immense detail.

 We didn't get to see everything we'd intended on our flying trip to Barcelona, but it certainly stood up to my expectations in every way, and I'm sure one day I'll go back - booking some tours in advance!

So, I'm more or less up to date now, I must get back into the swing of things and post regularly. Thank you to lovely Connie who always comments on my posts and has been asking after me during my long break! And now, I must catch up with reading all my favourite bloggers, I've got way out of date with them. See you all soon!